That's Why I'm Here: James Taylor's Lyrical Innovations

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Elliott, Carter
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
This paper and creative project serve to study the songwriting of James Taylor in an academic light. Two lyrical innovations employed by Taylor are studied over the course of the paper; these are character displacement and division by three. To provide context for the musical climate surrounding Taylor, works from his predecessors and contemporaries are studied as well as two songs written after Taylor’s rise to fame in the 1970s. To round off the project, I have written and recorded three songs of my own employing the same strategies and innovations that Taylor has used in his songs over the years, adhering to the models discovered in my research as best I can. Over the course of my time working on this paper and the three songs, I have found that Taylor’s strategies have done a world of good for autobiographical songwriting and should remain relevant when writing songs.